Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Extant Regency Chemisette or Tucker

Today I thought that I would share some photos of a wonderful recent 'antique find'. It is a Regency cotton tucker, with a short body, and a lovely falling high collar. I have never come across such an early Regency chemisette. 

Extant Regency Chemisette with Falling Collar


Details of Regency Chemisette


Originally it would have fastened with a pin, or either a Dorset or Mother of Pearl button and a hand sewn loop on the opposite edge.

The back of the body of the chemisette is made up of 2 pattern pieces, and there is one piece to each of the sides at the front (I am presuming that it was worn with a high necked gown.) Originally it would have been starched. There may have been one or two small mother of pearl or Dorset thread buttons on one side, and a hand sewn loop on the other side to fasten at the neck, or it could have been pinned. The hand stitching is of course, exquisite.

Measurements:-
Inside Neck - 33cm or 13"
Centre Back from top of collar to hem - 21.5cm or 8 2/8"


Naomi x

Friday, 6 January 2017

Why I love Dorset Buttons


Firstly, my apologies for my absence for most of the last year (at least blog wise). Unfortunately 2016 turned into my 'annus horribilis'. It was a difficult and very stressful year, and subsequently my M.E. symptoms were getting a bit too much. Anyhow, I think that I have finally turned a corner.  My work life has had to change to accommodate my health, so I have had many things to re-assess work-wise. Sadly I have had to stop buying and restoring antique clothing. It has been such a difficult decision for me as it was fascinating, exciting, and I learnt so much from it. But new things are afoot. In my opinion a new year is a fresh start, and I have a lot to look forward to this year, so watch this space. 

I was asked recently to write a piece about why I love Dorset buttons. Once I had started writing I found that I had quite a bit to say about the subject, so thought that I would write a blog post as well.



I think the very first time I came across Dorset buttons was in the book “The Art of Dress - Clothes and Society 1500 to 1914” by Jane Ashelford. On page 182 there is a vibrant pink silk dress, with yellow Dorset buttons at the back opening. I remember thinking ‘oh, wow, what are those!?’. To come across those pieces of needlework, beautiful in their own right, was a revelation. At the time I had just begun sewing custom Regency clothing, so I made it my business to find out more, and then I started to add them to my spencers, dresses, underthings and chemisettes (and I was one of the earliest seamstresses to offer these buttons on clothing).  And of course, once I had mastered the basic Crosswheel button, I then wanted to go further, to create the other crosswheel designs, and then move over to the more complicated, less easy ones. I then became obsessed with finding extant clothing with Dorset crosswheel buttons on, or the older, and much more easily found Dorset cartwheel buttons (or ‘Old’ Dorsets as they are also known). So these images here show a section of clothing items that have passed through my hands:-

Early 1800s Nightgown


1820s-30s Undress/Wrapper


1820s-30s Men's Underpants



1820s-30s Lace Cuffs


1800-1830s Undress Jacket



There is a huge disparity between ‘costume’ clothing and ‘historical dress’ clothing. Apart from the obvious points such as cut, fabric, and quality of construction, it often is the little details that give the clothing a truly authentic feel, which is especially important for museums and history re-enactors. As in all things to do with my work, it is the historical context that I’m really interested in. So as well as making the buttons, I want to know what items of clothing they would have been added to.  Every time I look at or handle an extant/antique item of clothing, I can’t help but feel a thrill of excitement. I always imagine the person that wore it, made it or sold it; where, to whom, what were their lives like? 


Although I no longer make the historical dress items, I do continue to make Dorset buttons (Blandford Cartwheels, the basic Crosswheel, Bird’s Eyes and Singletons), for individuals and tv productions, and my interest in them certainly hasn’t waned. I am always finding new buttons to make, new techniques to battle with. Dorset High Tops have always fascinated me. So tiny and yet so well crafted. I was, as you can imagine, delighted to find that Henry’s Buttons are now selling a wooden mould to make them with. As of yet I haven’t quite got round to trying it out, but cannot wait to do so. Recently I also come across a book by Olivia Pass; “Dorset Feather Stitchery”, which shows the Dorset buttons being used on aprons, dresses and needlework items back in the 1950s. It was in the 1950s that more interest was garnered in the world of Dorset buttons via a WI (Women’s Institute) ‘How to’ card. And so yes, the Dorset button industry on a commercial level collapsed around the mid 1800s, yet it clearly was never truly lost. Individuals most likely in Dorset were still making this piece of their local history, even just to use on smocks and other forms of clothing or needlework items.


And lastly, I need to mention the other joy linked to Dorset button making. After many attempts, tears of frustration (and I truly mean that!), and “how the heck did anyone make these?!”, at some point along the way, something clicks, and the technique eventually slots into place in my hands or brain (or both), and that wonderful moment of “Yippee! I can do it too! How beautiful is that!” fills me with much pride and happiness, and, in turn, I feel that little bit more connected to all those people long ago who were involved with the industry that was ‘Dorset Buttony’.

Naomi x

Henry's Buttons on Etsy

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Antique Regency Child's Chemisette c.1800-1820s

I must offer my excuses for being quiet during the first couple of months of the year. Before Christmas, the men we had redoing our kitchen unfortunately left their van in the wrong gear, and it rolled down our drive and ploughed into my workroom. No-one was hurt thankfully, but it left some damage to the wall both inside and out, so I have been working all over the house, in a higgeldy piggeldy chaotic mess. Thankfully this week I am now back in, so can return to work proper. :-)

A couple of months ago I came across this wonderful item: a child's Regency era chemsiette. I have never seen one before, so was delighted! Here it is:-

Regency Era Child's Chemisette






It has already gone to a very good home.

Details:-
The fabric is a fine muslin. It has shoulder seams, and a more robust front button hem than you find on ladies' chemisettes. The whitework is beautiful, with tiny ears of wheat adorning the neckline. It closes with 2 tiny ceramic buttons. The neckline shape is square. To the front there are 2 holes at the bottom on each side, where a pin would have been used to keep it closed (I was quite interested to see this!).

Measurements:
From Centre Back to Hem~ 9 1/2" or 24.5cm
Width at Widest (shoulder to shoulder)~ 13 1/2" or 43.5cm

Naomi x

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

'Oktis' Corset Shields

What a find!! Here we have a wonderful item for collectors of corsets/corset history - the full package for Oktis Corset Shields, waist 24". By looking at the corset illustrations, the date is around the turn of the 20th century. You can view the V&A example here.


The fabulous thing is that the complete packaging has survived; both shields, outer envelope and advertising leaflet. All is in mint condition.









I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! The New Year is almost upon us, one of my favourite times of year!!
Naomi xx